A better way to prepare for the bar exam

By Linda Chan

Bar examinees often make the false assumption that they have to memorize every rule. They buy a bunch of outlines, flashcards, and other bar exam prep materials, thinking they will be in shape for essay questions if they just memorize them all.

Sadly, this does not put them in 5th gear. The law changes each day. Rules come with exceptions, and as exceptions modify rules, legislatures react to voters with new statutes, and courts respond to societal changes with new case decisions.  Simply memorizing rules is not an effective way to study for the bar exam.

Instead of spending wasteful hours making flashcards or reading long outlines, learn to “elementize.”  “Elementize” means breaking down rules in each tested subject into major categories, and then making checklists of the elements in each category. For example, breach of duty in products liability based on negligence is shown by the negligent conduct of a defendant, leading to the supplying of a defective product. Elementize duty into:

1. negligent conduct of a defendant leading to

2. the supplying of a defective product.

Another example, there is an implied warranty that goods are merchantable, meaning they are fit for their ordinary purposes, and fit for particular purposes for which such goods are used, meaning the seller knows of a buyer’s particular purpose, and the buyer relies on the seller’s skill in purchasing the goods. Elementize implied warranty to stop the dizzy from theoretical details, case decisions, or statutes:

1. merchantable (fit for ordinary purposes), and

2. fit for particular purposes (for which goods are used)

       a. seller knows of buyer’s particular purpose, and

       b. buyer relies on seller’s skill in purchasing goods.   

Elementize to the finish! A bar exam candidate elementizes to a passing bar exam by showing the bar examiner he or she not only knows the rules, but also how to apply them to the facts at hand, to come up with a well analyzed conclusion.